The Flow Cytometry shared resource of the Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) Massey Cancer Center (MCC) was founded in 1976. Its instrumentation has been regularly upgraded through eight generations of flow cytometers to the five flow instruments currently in use, two multi-laser BD Aria II sorters, one of which is located in a Baker BioProtect Hood, three analyzers, a BD Canto II, a Coulter FC500 and a Coulter XL-MCL. Capabilities include up to nine color simultaneous detection and up to four simultaneous sorts per Aria II. The Flow Cytometry shared resource also has a Biacore T100 instrument for surface plasmon resonance (SPR) studies. The Director, Dr Daniel H. Conrad, has over 25 years of experience in flow cytometry and over 12 years of experience with SPR technology. Dr Conrad, whose office and laboratory are in close proximity to the instruments in the Kontos Medical Science Building (KMSB), meets regularly with core personnel and oversees planning for the new facility. The Resource Manager, Ms Julie Farnsworth, is highly trained in flow cytometry and has been with the Flow Cytometry shared resource for nine years. Previous to this, she worked for the Flow Cytometry core at the University of North Carolina (UNC) for two years. The resource provides a wide range of services, from routine fluorescence analysis to interactive custom design of innovative analysis and sorting protocols, addressing the specific needs of individual investigators. Dr Conrad closely follows the analyses performed by the core facility, insuring quality control, and advising facility users on alternative, often novel, approaches to experimental design and data analysis. Since the last review, the resource has upgraded facilities and instrumentation, moved to a new central location and added the capabilities for multiple high-speed and biohazardous sorting. This shared resource maintains a stable base of instrumentation, expertise and trained personnel and currently provides services and training for multiple users in 69 research groups from 21 departments at VCU. It has had a major impact on cancer research at the VCU MCC for 30 years.
Flow cytometry has important applications in basic, translational, and clinical cancer research. Flow cytometry is used as a tool to measure molecules both on and in individual cells. This capacity gives cancer researchers the ability to identify the differences between normal and cancerous cells, to quantify the immune response to cancer cells, and to measure the response of cancer cells to treatment.
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